Service no. 55321
Private, Welsh Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Formerly 31166, the King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry
Died of wounds 22 September 1918, aged about 36
Buried at Brie Cemetery, Somme, France (grave I C 9)
Remembered at Stockwell War Memorial and on a wooden memorial plaque at Westminster Abbey, London, where he worked as a plumber (information from L. Hopkins, great-grandson)
Research contributed by Marietta Crichton Stuart
Hopkins’ Medal Index card names him as Frederick Hopkins and shows that he was eligible for the Victory and British Medals.
Soldiers Died in the Great War records him as Private Frederick William Hopkins, born in Lambeth, residence Walworth, Middx (sic), Enlisted Kensington, Middx (sic), Private, Welsh Regiment, 2nd Battalion, number 55321, died of wounds, theatre of war Western European Theatre, comments formerly 31166, Shropshire LI.
The CWGC entry gives no family details.
Frederick William Hopkins was born between April and June 1882 in Lambeth. He was the son of William and Mary Ann Hopkins nee Rayner. The family was living at 4 China Walk in North Lambeth and William worked as a wine cellarman. They had three daughters: Mabel, Alice and Florence. William died in 1888.
On the 1891 census, Mary Hopkins is a widow, working as a charwoman and living with her son Frederick and three daughters at 15 Union Street in North Lambeth.
Between October and December 1901 when he was 20, Frederick married Nellie Eliza L. Walker.
Nellie Walker was born in December 1881, the daughter of William and Louisa Walker (nee Dixon) who had married at St Philip’s Lambeth. Her father was a Nottingham born iron turner. When Nellie was baptised on 5 March 1882 in the parish of Emmanuel, Surrey, the family’s address was given as 120 Vauxhall Terrace and her father’s occupation was an engineer.
On the 1891 census Nellie was living with her parents at 55 Stockwell Green and her four brothers: William 5, Robert 4, Horace 2 and Alfred 2 months and one sister, Louisa aged 5. Four of the children were Lambeth-born and two were born in Southwark.
On the 1901 census Nellie Walker was living in 33 Villa Road and working as a general servant (domestic). This was the home of Marion Butler, 58, a boarding-house keeper, with three boarders, Henrietta Mark (living on own means), Alfred A C ?Suggate, a widower who was a civil engineer, and John Baddley, a ?drapery warehouseman (employer).
Nellie and Frederick Hopkins were married October-December 1901 and their first child, Dorothy Amelia, was born on 2 November that year. When Dorothy was baptised at St Mary’s the Less, Princes Road on 19 February the following year, the family was living at 63 Fitzalan Street in Kennington and Frederick was working as a plumber.
Their son Frederick William (Junior) was born in 1904 and a second daughter, Nellie Ethel, in 1908. All three Hopkins children were born in Lambeth.
On the 1911 census the family was living at 31 Upper Kennington Lane. Frederick was now 29 and working as a plumber/journeyman in the building trade. Nellie was 28, Dorothy 9, Frederick 7 and Nellie 2.
Frederick’s army records do not appear to have survived for either the Shropshire Light Infantry or the Welsh Regiment. His entry on Soldiers died says he enlisted in Kensington. The 2nd Battalion Welsh regiment was a regular battalion, and it is possible that Frederick was in one of the territorial battalions of the 2nd.
As he was ineligible for either a 1914 or 1915 star medal, the assumption is that Frederick entered a theatre of war in 1916. In September 1918 the 2nd Welsh were part of the 1st Division who fought in the Battle of Epehy during what was later known as the Advance to Victory. By 19 September the Division had been unable to capture either the fortified village of Fresnoy le Petit or the mass of trenches known as the Quadrilateral and the Corps Commander decided to bombard these two strong positions before renewing the attack on 24 September. It is possible that it was during this fighting that Frederick was wounded. He may have been taken to one of the casualty clearing stations near Brie and subsequently died of his wounds. He was then buried in Brie Cemetery.
Fifty years later, his widow, Nellie E. Hopkins, died in Lambeth during the winter of 1967. She was 85.